Turkish Cypriot leader stresses need for sovereign equality on Cyprus
The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Oct. 4 stressed the importance of sovereign equality for the Turkish Cypriot people on Cyprus.
Ersin Tatar delivered the opening lecture of the semester on the history of the Turkish presence on the island at Anadolu University in the central province of Eskişehir in Turkey, where he was also bestowed an honorary doctorate.
Speaking on the history of Turkish Cypriots' "struggle for existence" on the island, Tatar underlined that their sovereignty on Cyprus was just as legal as that of Greek Cypriots.
He argued that for years, there have been efforts to turn Cyprus into a Greek island. "We wanted to exist, to live on this island together. We always accepted that they (Greek Cypriots) are also valuable but, unfortunately, we did not receive the same understanding from them," said Tatar.
Adding that "games" were being played on Cyprus for a federal-based outcome on the island, he said: "So, they're saying that once there is a federal-based agreement, the Turkish Cypriots will be equal, according to them, but I don't think there would be any equality as they don't even accept a rotating presidency (between Turkish and Greek Cypriots).
"Therefore, that federal-based agreement will basically make us a minority in a short time, later annihilating us and with Turkey's withdrawal from the island (leave us with) zero soldiers, zero guarantor-ship," he said.
Tatar said the TRNC is "face to face with such a mentality, a selfishness, an audacity that would take us back to before 1974 and even 1960," referring to an era of ethnic attacks against Turkish Cypriots.
"So, it isn't possible for us to say 'yes' to such a thing (federal-based agreement)," he added, arguing that efforts to get Turkey to leave the region were part of a "set-up" to turn it into a "Greek lake."
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
In the face of ethnic attacks, Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted the U.N.'s Annan plan to end the decades-long dispute.